As an up-and-coming master of the undefinable horror genre, Ari Aster’s sophomore flick Midsommar is a fascinating follow up to last year’s hit Heredity. Though there are some unambiguous differences, Midsommar is more trippy — and we don’t mean in just the vacationing sort of way. Plus, most of the harrowing horror takes place in broad daylight, which we must admit is a refreshing mix-up from traditional horror tropes.

Nevertheless, for two hours and 20 minutes, Aster effectively presents the audience with one of the most deranged stories ever to brought to the screen. It’s almost like the Hostel franchise in the sense that it will make some people not want to travel to any foreign rural location, ever. At least not without the proper due diligence.

As far as the plot goes, a group of American graduate students go to Sweden and decide to visit the rural compound one of their Swedish friends has grown up in. Promised to have a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience at the commune’s midsummer festival, stemming from a mysterious ancient and pagan ritual that only happens every 90 years, the outsiders soon realize all is not what it seems. The film’s protagonist, Dani (Florence Pugh), is struck by a tragic event and is trying to heal, while her somewhat douchebag boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor) can’t seem to cope with her emotions.

The emotionally-charged Pugh really cements her character’s struggles with a dynamic range and intense expressions. We see how this is all going wrong through her eyes, and Aster makes sure the camera is on her face for much of the time. The other actors fill their parts well, especially Will Poulter as a wisecracking, horny guy, William Jackson Harper as the ambitious grad student trying to finish his thesis — and Reynor, who becomes progressively more shellshocked as things go along,

We should also throw a few accolades to the cinematographer, Pawel Pogorzelski, for taking full advantage of this twisted, “dark” tale taking place in the land of eternal sunlight. Even though the film was actually shot in Hungary instead of Sweden, the shots are impeccable as is the use of camera angles. It’s Hitchcock-level stuff, literally.

Aster channels tons of cultural influences throughout the film other than the Swedish villagers, such as other festival trends from famous festivals like Burning Man or even Coachella with the women wearing flower crowns, dancing, and large groups of people consuming natural hallucinogens. Only this pagan festival is much more disturbing, violent, and cores around the theme of the cycle of life, referenced by famous transcendentalist William Cullen Bryant’s work, Thanatopsis.

Overall, Midsommar is fueled by WTF moments, thought-provoking allegories, and a surprise ending that Aster is becoming known for. But if audiences are expecting a traditional horror flick, they may be just a little disappointed. Then again, why would fans of the gene even expect that from Aster?